DURHAM, N.C. – The 12th-seeded Duke volleyball team pulled out a 3-2 win over Ohio in round two of the NCAA Volleyball Championship on Saturday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium and will advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1994.
The Blue Devils (26-6), who took down High Point 3-0 in the NCAA first round on Friday, clinched the win over Ohio with a 15-10 win in set five that saw junior right side hitter Amanda Robertson post six kills, including three straight when Duke trailed 10-9. The 6-3 junior was flawless in the final set, finishing 6-for-13 with no errors as Duke moved on to the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history.
“It is hard to put things into words sometimes when you’ve been working for a long time for something,” said Duke head coach Jolene Nagel. “This opportunity couldn’t happen to a more deserving group. They’ve earned this opportunity; they have committed themselves to be the best team they could be.
Things weren’t smooth tonight. Ohio University has a tremendous team, and they played very hard. We had to really play from the heart in order to get this one tonight. We’re very proud of this team and how hard they worked, and I’m really excited for them to have the opportunity to advance.”
Robertson put down a team-high 13 kills against an Ohio defense that posted 26 blocks, including 12 from Lexie Harnett and 11 from Katie Post. The Blue Devils hit only .118, but sent just 10 of their 169 attacks out of bounds and committed only one service error on 99 tries. Thanks to the play of court defenders Ali McCurdy and Nailah Waterfield, the Duke defense surrendered only two service aces as well.
“I thought that Amanda Robertson would lead them down the stretch, and she would try and take over the match, and she did,” said Ohio head coach Ryan Theis, who has led the Bobcats to NCAA appearances in each of his first three seasons. “But when a player gets in a zone like she was in the end of game five, I think we could have had four blockers on her and I think she was going to find a way to score. And that’s what she did as a big time player and in a big time situation and almost became un-defendable at times.”
Duke will face Missouri in the Sweet 16 on the campus of Penn State University on Friday, Dec. 10. Missouri upset fifth-seeded UNI 3-2 in the first round of the tournament and pulled off a 3-1 win over Northwestern in round two.
Duke and Ohio (23-13) traded the first four games, with Ohio staving off elimination with a 25-17 win in the fourth set. The Bobcats carried that momentum into game five and jumped out in front 8-6. The Blue Devils buckled down, however, and after a brief intermission tied the match on a kill from senior co-captain Becci Burling and an Ohio attack error. The Bobcats would regain the lead once again at 10-9, but that would be their last chance as Robertson took over and connected on three straight kills to put Duke ahead 12-10. From there, the Blue Devils capitalized on an attack error from Sue Jacobi and a kill from Claire Smalzer before ending the match on a block from Smalzer and All-ACC sophomore Christiana Gray.
ACC Player of the Year Kellie Catanach posted her team-leading 12th double-double of the year for Duke with 40 assists and 13 digs. The 40 assists put her over the 4,000-mark for her career, making her only the third Duke player in school history to reach that mark.